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reflexive selectionreflexive Selektion (ger.)

  • a selection in which selective success depends on an organism's relation to other members of its population, in which the selection criteria are therefore defined by the members of the group. (HWB 2011)    eine Selektion, bei der der Selektionserfolg von der Relation eines Organismus zu den anderen Mitgliedern seiner Population abhängt, bei der die Selektionsbedingungen also durch die Mitglieder einer Gruppe bestimmt werden. (HWB 2011) 

    Reflexive Selection is the exclusive generation of these better fitted to the relations in which the members of the same species stand to each other.

    Gulick, T. (1888). Divergent evolution through cumulative segregation. J. Linn. Soc. Zool. 20, 189-274: 200-1.


    I have endeavoured to show that there must be several principles somewhat similar to sexual selection, which I have grouped with it under the names reflexive segregation and reflexive selection

    Gulick, T. (1897). The utility of specific characters. Nature 55, 508-509: 509.


    The type of selection postulated for massive polymorphism does not easily fit into the familiar categories as stabilizing, directional, or disruptive. It is not disruptive selection, at least in any ordinary sense, since it does not break the population into two or more incipient species. Perhaps it should be regarded as a special form of stabilizing selection which produces not uniformity but continual diversity. This seems a contradition in terms. […] The term reflexive selection suggests itself because it is the variation per se which is adaptive, and the frequency of any one type is determined by a feedback relationship with all the other types

    Moment, G.B. (1962). Reflexive selection: a possible answer to an old puzzle. Science 136, 262-263: 263. 


    I argue that reflexive selection is no different from apostatic selection

    Allen, J.A. (1986). Reflexive selection is apostatic selection. Oikos 51, 251-253: 251.


    We suggest that the variation in forewing pattern in Achaea lienardi is of the same kind as that noted by Moment (1962) in the North Atlantic brittlestar, and that both polymorphisms are maintained by reflexive selection. In these two instances we predict that the selective advantage will be found to be in the variation per se. The variation is such that each individual is discontinuously different from other individuals, and although for some phenotypes it is possible to find like individuals, this does not occur very often and there are no common phenotypes. […] We envisage reflexive selection as a process which generates massive discontinuous diversity in colour and pattern to an extent that nearly every individual is distinct. The diverse phenotypes produced are cryptic or presumed to be cryptic, resembling inanimate objects and so are often overlooked by visual predators, especially those forming search images of potential prey. Species showing reflexive polymorphisms tend to be locally very abundant.

    Owen, D.F. & Whiteley, D. (1986). Reflexive selection: Moment’s hypothesis resurrected. Oikos 47, 117-120: 118; 120. 


    Massive polymorphism in which all phenotypes are cryptic is what we believe Moment (1962) had in mind in his original definition of reflexive selection, even if he did not state the principle as precisely as this. Reflexive polymorphisms, then, are those in which there is massive discontinuous diversity in colour and pattern to an extent that large samples are required before two identical phenotypes are found. All the phenotypes are cryptic, or presumed to be cryptic. Apostatic polymorphisms are those in which there is discontinuous diversity in colour and pattern but a large sample should soon produce replicate phenotypes, and some may be relatively frequent. At least some of these phenotypes are not deemed to be cryptic and their selective advantage lies solely in their being different from the norm.

    Owen, D.F. & Whiteley, D. (1988). The beach clams of Thessaloniki: reflexive or apostatic selection? Oikos 51, 253-255: 255.


    some populations may contain many rare phenotypes (maintained by reflexive selection […] These three species [of butterflies] exhibit what we call reflexive polymorphisms. In all three it is only the exposed wingsurfaces that are polymorphic: all other wing surfaces are more or less uniform and there is no polymorphism. We suggest, therefore, that this is sufficient evidence to demonstrate the polymorphisms are maintained by visual selection by predators. Other explanations can be ruled out.

    Owen, D.F. & Whiteley, D. (1989). Evidence that reflexive polymorphisms are maintained by visual selection by predators. Oikos 55, 130-133: 130; 132.